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Visiting Info
Opening Hours:

Sunday to Wednesday: 09:00-17:00
Thursday: 9:00-20:00 *
Fridays and Holiday eves: 09:00-14:00.

Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays.

* The Holocaust History Museum, Museum of Holocaust Art, Exhibitions Pavilion and Synagogue are open until 20:00. All other sites close at 17:00.

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Auschwitz: History of a Death Camp

This online course covers all major aspects of the concentration and extermination camp, including its role in the context of the "Final Solution", its evolution throughout the camp's existence, the "selection" and murder process, daily life for camp prisoners, the perpetrators, resistance, and reactions of the outside world. (Course consists of 6 lessons, 30 hours equivalent.)

 

 

Course Syllabus:

Lesson 1: Establishment and History of the Camp
This lesson discusses the establishment of Auschwitz as another camp in the litany of concentration camps established by the Nazi regime, and the way it morphed into something much bigger and even more sinister. It discusses the evolution of the "Final Solution" and how Auschwitz fit into the "Final Solution," and continues by analyzing the deportations from all over Europe that turned Auschwitz into the largest death camp.

Reading:
- Christopher R. Browning, "From 'Ethnic Cleansing' to Genocide to the 'Final Solution,' The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, 1939-1941", in Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 1-25.
- Falk Pingel, "The Concentration Camps as a part of the National-Socialist System of Domination”, Yisrael Gutman, Avital Saf (Eds.), The Nazi Concentration Camps, Structure and Aims, The Image of the Prisoner, The Jews in the Camps (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1980), pp. 3-17.

Further reading:
- Sybille Steinbacher, Auschwitz, A History (Great Britain: Penguin Books, 2005), pp. 22-95. Franciszek Piper and Teresa Swiebocka, Auschwitz - Nazi Death Camp (Oswiecim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 1996).
- Christopher R. Browning, "The Search for a Final Solution Through Expulsion,” in Origins of the Final Solution: September 1939 - March 1942 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2004), pp. 36-110.

 

Lesson 2: Arrival and Selection
This lesson begins with the experience of the deportees inside the cattle cars on the way to Auschwitz. It then discusses what happened to them upon arrival at the camp, the process of "selection" and the absorption of prisoners into the camp.

Reading:
- Gideon Greif, "The 'Auschwitz Album' - the Story of Lili Jacob", in The Auschwitz Album, The Story of a Transport, Israel Gutman and Bella Gutterman, eds., (Jerusalem and Oswiecim, Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002), pp. 71-86.

 

Lesson 3: The Mass Extermination of Human Beings
This lesson explores the extermination process that was responsible for murdering over 1 million Jews, and how Auschwitz became the apex of industrialized killing.

Reading:
- Excerpts from the article: Franciszek Piper, "Gas Chambers and Crematoria”, Yisrael Gutman, Michael Berenbaum (Eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Published in association with the: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. Indiana University Press Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1994, pp. 157-182.

Further Reading:
- Piper, Francizek; Swiebocka, Teresa; Auschwitz - Nazi Death Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, 1996.
(Particularly "The Organization of KL Auschwitz and the Prisoners' Living Conditions” pp. 43-142 and "Extermination at KL Auschwitz” pp. 143-198.)
- Filip Müller, Eyewitness Auschwitz. Three years in the Gas Chambers (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1979).

 

Lesson 4: Daily life of Prisoners in Auschwitz
In this lesson we will present different aspects of the inmates' daily reality in the camp. In Auschwitz the prisoners had to depart from their previous lives; they were stripped of their personal belongings, their bodies were violated, their names were replaced by numbers, their homes by blocks, and their beds by a three-tiered bunk with a thin layer of straw for a mattress. They were transformed into an unidentified, oppressed mass, subject to the arbitrary policies of the camp's authorities.

Reading:
- Gideon Greif, "The Daily Life of Auschwitz Prisoners”, On the Path of Remembrance, 28 (Heb.), (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1998), pp. 17-25.

Further reading:
- Yisrael Gutman, Michael Berenbaum (Eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), pp. 363-469.
- Danuta Czech, "The Auschwitz Prisoner Administration" in Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, Eds., Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998), pp. 363-378.
- Primo Levi, If This Is a Man (London: Abacus, 1987).

 

Lesson 5: Perpetrators in Auschwitz
This lesson focuses on the perpetrators of the Holocaust at Auschwitz: the commanders, executioners, doctors, guards, and others, who actively took part in the persecution, torture, and murder of Nazi victims.

Reading:
- Interview with Professor David Bankier, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, (Multimedia CD 'Eclipse Of Humanity', Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2000.)

Further Reading:
- Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men (New York, Harper Pereminal, 1993).
- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners - Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).
- KL Auschwitz Seen By the SS (Oswiecim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2006).
- Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (United States of America: Basic Books, 2000).

 

Lesson 6: Resistance, the Reaction of the Outside World and the Denouement
This lesson focuses on a number of subjects including the controversy over whether the Allies should have bombed Auschwitz or the train tracks leading to the camp. The lesson also discusses resistance at Auschwitz - both armed and spiritual, including escapes - and Auschwitz's end: the evacuation of the prisoners, the death marches and the liberation of the camp by the Red Army.

Reading:
- Daniel Blatman, "The Death Marches January - May 1945 - Who Was Responsible for What?" Yad Vashem Studies, Volume XXVIII (2000).

Further reading:
- Gideon Greif, We Wept Without Tears (New Haven: Yale University, 2005).
- Filip Müller, Eyewitness Auschwitz - Three Years in the Gas Chambers, (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999).
- Rudolf Vrba, I Escaped From Auschwitz (Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2002).
- Otto Dov Kulka, Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, trans. Ralph Mandel (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013).